Topic: BW - NSW - NSWIB
New South Wales Imperial Bushmen
Canadian Contingent leading the parade to celebrate Mafeking Day at Bulawayo, 23 May 1900.
[Sydney Mail, 21 July 1900, p. 147.]
While the Imperial Bushmen were making their way through Rhodesia, the siege at Mafeking ended with a British victory.
A good contemporary account of this occasion is in the book of:
H. W. Wilson, "With the Flag to Pretoria: A History of the Boer War, 1899-1900", London, 1901. CHAPTER XXV, The Relief of Mafeking.
In the background of the photograph, the Imperial Bushmen can be seen marching along in their various troop formations. The Canadians in the lead seem to cut fine figures in their highly decorative uniforms. These highly visible dress coats had to be discarded very quickly when facing the Boers on the Veldt as they became instant targets for accurate Boer sniping.
By the time the first units from the Imperial Bushmen arrived at Bulawayo, the second largest city in Rhodesia, the good folk were ready to let their hair go and celebrate the victory. Part of the victory celebrations was the participation in a Victory Parade by those members of the Imperial Bushmen's Contingent at Bulawayo. So on 23 May 1900, the Imperial Bushmen marched alongside their Canadian allies. Below is a photograph of the march past led by the Canadian contingent.
Apart from a good day by all, that Blue Brand Aerated Water Factory sure beats having a Coke.
One way to finish this item off is to cite the highly forgetable poem penned by William Topaz McGonagall, poet and tragedian of Dundee, who still is widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language...
The Relief of Mafeking
Success to Colonel Baden-Powell and his praises loudly sing,
For being so brave in relieving Mafeking,
With his gallant little band of eight hundred men,
They made the Boers fly from Mafeking like sheep escaping from a pen.
'Twas in the year of 1900 and on the 18th of May,
That Colonel Baden-Powell beat the Boers without dismay,
And made them fly from Mafeking without delay,
Which will be handed down to posterity for many a day.
Colonel Baden-Powell is a very brave man,
And to deny it, I venture to say, few men can;
He is a noble hero be it said,
For at the siege of Mafeking he never was afraid.
And during the siege Colonel Baden was cheerful and gay,
While the starving population were living on brawn each day;
And alas! the sufferings of the women and children were great,
But they all submitted patiently to their fate.
For seven months besieged they fought the Boers without dismay,
Until at last the Boers were glad to run away;
Because Baden-Powell's gallant band put them to flight
By cannon shot and volleys of musketry to the left and right.
Then long live Baden-Powell and his brave little band,
For during the siege of Mafeking they made a bold stand
Against yelling thousands of Boers who were thirsting for their blood,
But as firm as a rock against them they fearlessly stood.
Oh! think of them living on brawn extracted from horse hides,
While the inhuman Boers their sufferings deride,
Knowing that the women's hearts with grief were torn
As they looked on their children's faces that looked sad and forlorn.
For 217 days the Boers tried to obtain Mafeking's surrender,
But their strategy was futile owing to its noble defender,
Colonel Baden-Powell, that hero of renown,
Who, by his masterly generalship, saved the town.
Methinks I see him and his gallant band,
Looking terror to the foe: Oh! The sight was really grand,
As he cried, "Give it them, lads; let's do or die;
And from Mafeking we'll soon make them fly,
And we'll make them rue their rash undertaking
The day they laid siege to the town of Mafeking."
Long life and prosperity to Colonel Baden-Powell,
For there's very few generals can him excel;
And he is now the Hero of Mafeking, be it told,
And his name should be engraved on medals of gold.
I wish him and his gallant little band every success,
For relieving the people of Mafeking while in distress;
They made the Boers rue their rash undertaking
The day they laid siege to the town of Mafeking.
For during the defence of Mafeking
From grief he kept the people's hearts from breaking,
Because he sang to them and did recite
Passages from Shakespeare which did their hearts delight.
At least McGonagall's heart was in the right place. McGonagall's name was made with his publication of the famous "Tay Bridge Disaster" poem. If for no other reason than its forced doggerel, this poem about Mafeking lives on in the collections of English literature.
Citation: Mafeking Day Victory Parade, Bulawayo, 23 May 1900